This is a reference for Bob McDougall

Stepping Stones

The training activity took place
in Belfast, Northern Ireland
organised by Léargas, British Council

Aims & objectives

This training was designed for organisations interested in EVS sending and hosting, both accredited and non-accredited, who want to develop their capacity to support young people with fewer opportunities to take part in EVS. It was also an opportunity for organisations from the UK and from Ireland to form partnerships based on the idea that an EVS placement between these two countries would be a good, low-impact starting point for a young person who has perhaps not travelled out of their region before.
The main aim of this training was to enhance the capabilities of participants to develop and implement quality EVS projects involving Young People with Fewer Opportunities. It gave participants a chance to explore best practice in both short- and long-term EVS projects and addressed the following topics:
• Working well with partners
• Volunteer recruitment and selection
• Developing a work programme
• Ensuring a match between the volunteer and the project tasks
• Specific support needed for Young People with Fewer Opportunities
• Developing a pre-Departure plan
• Mentoring and supporting the volunteer during their EVS
• Supporting non-formal learning
• Risk Management
• Evaluating and building on your EVS experience

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

The participants came from a wide-range of organisations working with young people in a variety of settings. Some had prior experience in working with EVS and most had experience of working in some guise with young people with Fewer Opportunities, but none had experience of both. We accepted applications from organisations that were intending to start working with EVS with disadvantaged young people.
All participants were either from the UK or from Ireland. The idea was to encourage partnership building given that a short-term EVS placement between these two areas (with same language, similar culture) would be a low-impact first EVS experience for a disadvantaged young person.

Target Groups
• Accredited EVS organisations both host and sending
• Youth workers
• Youth leaders
• Project managers
• EVS mentors/tutors

Training methods used & main activities

The training was very much based on the principle of applied learning: everything the participants learnt could be applied to the EVS process.

The methodology of a three-phase seminar:

1) Getting to know each other and the represented organisations and target groups which assisted with partner making.

2) Input and information on Youth in Action, intercultural learning and on the topic of social inclusion and young people with fewer opportunities.

3) Active group and project work (including guidance on project management and key elements).

Outcomes of the activity

What was reported to be the most useful aspect of the seminar was the full day of EVS simulation that gave participants a realistic experience of the entire EVS cycle, specifically for short-term volunteers. Participants were encouraged to use their own experiences as a starting point to make the simulation as real as possible and for the participants to learn bespokely based on what will be most useful for them in their field.

Most participants had no experience of EVS and so learned the ins and outs of what they need to know to start practising. They were able to learn from their peers in the group who had experience of long-term EVS placements.

Supporting young people with Fewer Opportunities on an international project is a complicated process. We attempted to touch upon all aspects of this process from planning, recruitment and preparation through support and evaluation. All participants had things to learn and to offer others in all of these areas.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I worked alongside Janice McGarry (Ireland) to co-deliver this training. We met 5 months prior to the seminar to plan activities and discuss desired outcomes. During the training each of us facilitated 50% of the activities and supported each other and the participants' learning for the rest of the time.

I worked on this training for 4 days as a full time trainer.

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